Wednesday, September 18, 2013

The Big Chill

"It's a cold world out there. Sometimes I feel like I'm getting a little frosty myself." ~Meg

Any list of my all-time favorite and most watched movies would have to include the 1983 classic, The Big Chill. It is very difficult for me to believe that this piece of my own pop culture history has turned 30, but I guess like everything else in my life its age came sneaking up on me.  If you are familiar with the movie, then you know of the amazing cast, many of whom went on to great success in Hollywood. Glenn Close, Jeff Goldbloom, William Hurt, Tom Berenger, Mary Kay Place, JoBeth Williams and Kevin Kline played old college friends who reunite for the funeral of another old friend (played by an unknown and never actually seen Kevin Costner!) who has committed suicide. You know of the amazing soundtrack, featuring The Rolling Stones, Creedence Clearwater Revival, The Rascals, The Band, The Beach Boys, Three Dog Night, The Temptations and many other great artists of the 1960s and early 70s. And you know that it is primarily a story about friendship, and how difficult it can be to maintain even the best of friendships as circumstances change, miles separate and years go by.  The film is very funny, very insightful and very real to my life. Take out the recreational drug use and the free-wheeling (and sometimes a little bizarre) sexual encounters and in many ways I feel like I have lived much of this movie. 

We all have friends that we know "get" us. People around whom we can be ourselves with no pretense and no masks. Many times as we grow older these are not the people we see on a regular basis. But when we do talk or get a chance to be together, everything immediately feels like it always did. The discussions become real and poignant, and can almost sound crass to the uninitiated...much like this dialogue from the film, as Mary Kay Place and William Hurt discuss their deceased friend: 
Meg: The last time I talked with Alex we had a fight. I yelled at him.
Nick: That's probably why he killed himself. What the argument about?
Meg: I told him he was wasting his life...

Real friends face real problems together.  This particular group of friends begin to realize that the relationships forged in their college years were relatively easy to maintain then. It is only with the passage of time and intrusion of real world circumstances that there are truly  trials and tests. Marriages that fail. Dreams that die. Friends who give up on life (either figuratively or literally) even when they have much to live for. When life slaps you in the face and you cry out, often your acquaintances will abandon you.  But your friends...those who truly love and care for you...will rise to the occasion.  If we let them...

My life has certainly been full of ups and downs these past few years, and I know I could not have survived without my friends- some of whom I have not seen in years, but who never fail to show me love and support when I need it. They push me, forgive me and make me laugh. And most importantly, even when they are not able to be here, I know they are THERE. They have not and will not abandon me. But I have to be willing to ask for help. I have to willing to ask for prayers.  There is a scene in the movie where Tom Berenger and JoBeth Williams (who play characters who were a couple back in the day) have the following conversation: 
Sam: So how's your life?
Karen: Oh, great. How's yours?
Sam: Not so great.
Karen:  Ohhh...we're telling the truth.

The Big Chill always reminds me how blessed I am who have people in my life who hold me accountable and WANT to hear the truth about my life. It's not always sunny, and it's not always fun, because the truth is it can be a cold world out there, and we all need the love and support of friends to survive it.  Today, I celebrate this 30 year old movie by giving thanks for some more than 30 year old friendships that have kept me afloat for a lot of years. Nick, who was Alex's best friend and the most cynical member of the group, says at one point, "Wise up, folks. We're all alone out there and tomorrow we're going out there again."  Nick is wrong. We are never alone- not so long as we have faith, family and friends. And today I thank God for that. Have a blessed day.

Because of Jesus,

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